New audio revealed as part of Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News — which Fox allegedly failed to provide to Dominion in the discovery process — shows how Fox News and Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo took directives from the Trump campaign to promote the campaign’s plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election results on January 6, 2021.
The new evidence was revealed by former Fox producer Abby Grossberg as part of her separate lawsuit against the network for allegedly setting her and Bartiromo up as scapegoats for Fox’s clear pattern of spreading lies and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. While the paper trail released so far in the case shows that Grossberg herself promoted conspiracy theories in the pursuit of ratings, she has also brought forward additional evidence that has already produced big legal results in the Dominion case. The judge in the case reportedly sanctioned Fox on Wednesday for failing to turn over Grossberg’s audio recordings in a move that will give Dominion an opportunity to conduct further legal discovery at Fox’s expense.
On Wednesday night, MSNBC host Alex Wagner played exclusive audio excerpts from the key pieces of evidence that Grossberg had preserved and Fox had allegedly withheld from Dominion, including a phone call on November 8, 2020, in which then-Trump campaign attorney Rudy Giuliani admitted that he did not have evidence for his outlandish claims about Dominion. (Bartiromo and other Fox hosts continued to host Giuliani, anyway.) In another phone call, from December 5, 2020, an unnamed Trump campaign official admitted that Georgia’s statewide recount of ballots was “pretty darn close to what the machine count was,” and that the secretary of state’s office found that “that there weren’t any physical issues” with the voting machines. In a key piece of audio that Wagner played Wednesday night, the Trump campaign official also gave one of the earliest signals that the campaign intended to use the January 6, 2021, joint session of Congress in an attempt to overturn the election results, and that then-Vice President Mike Pence would supposedly “have to decide” which votes to count.
In another key section from the December 5, 2020, phone call that Grossberg’s lawyer provided to Wagner, the unnamed Trump campaign official suggested that media outlets should cover this date as a supposed milestone for determining the election — indeed, this had been his entire purpose for getting on this phone call.
Bartiromo immediately picked up on the Trump campaign’s instruction. On both her weekday morning Fox Business show, as well as her Sunday show on Fox News that Grossberg regularly produced, Bartiromo pushed the January 6 date many, many times, furthering the Trump campaign’s efforts to move the goal posts from its many legal and electoral defeats. These examples included instances in which Bartiromo either mentioned the date first, or she was clearly teeing up the guest to talk about the date, which Bartiromo depicted as an alleged point in time when Congress or Pence could realistically overturn the election.
On December 8, 2020, which was known as the “safe harbor” date against any legal challenges for the election results, Bartiromo hosted then-Trump campaign attorney Jenna Ellis, asking her, “So what do you see as, you know, today's date in terms of the safe harbor date? How does that complicate your challenges?” Ellis responded that “the ultimate date of significance is January 6,” which she said justified the campaign’s continued litigation. This was three days after Bartiromo’s call with the Trump campaign official. [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, 12/8/20]
On the December 13 edition of her Sunday show, Bartiromo hosted Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), asking him, “I want you to walk us through what happens on January 6,” which she described as “another date, as we approach a potential transition” of the presidency. Jordan then described the efforts that congressional Republicans would make to object to the election results, in order to prevent the “potential transition” that Bartiromo had described. [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 12/13/20]
- On December 14, the date when the Electoral College delegates voted across the country, Bartiromo hosted then-House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “What's your take on where we are?” she asked. “Is it the end of the line now for the president's campaign to stop and overturn this election as the Electoral College will meet, or are you looking at January 6 as a pivotal date or what?” [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, 12/14/20]
- The next day, December 15, Bartiromo read a news headline about the Electoral College results. Following a video clip of President-elect Joe Biden calling for the country “to unite, to heal,” Bartiromo said in a seeming rebuttal: “The next major step in the election process is on January 6. This is the date we are looking forward to, when Vice President Mike Pence is going to preside over the joint session of Congress while they officially tabulate the electoral votes.” [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, 12/15/20]
On December 18, Bartiromo hosted former pro football player and future Republican U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker and his son, right-wing social media personality Christian Walker. Bartiromo played a video clip that Christian Walker had posted in which he declared, “The electors might have cast their votes today. They're not counted until January 6, when Congress meets. … This isn’t over yet.” Bartiromo responded: “I just love that.” [Fox Business, Mornings with Maria Bartiromo, 12/18/20]
On December 20, Bartiromo hosted Herschel and Christian Walker again on her Sunday show, once again praising Christian Walker’s online video and telling him, “You were basically underlining Section 1, Article 2 in the Constitution.” After Christian declared on “January 6, the vice president will count the votes,” Bartiromo did not challenge the apparent contention that Pence could determine the election results, but instead just praised Christian further: “Yes, and that's pretty much what you said on Instagram, which was great. It went viral.” [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 12/20/20]
On the January 3, 2021, edition of her Sunday show — the weekend prior to the joint session of Congress — Bartiromo hosted multiple Republican members of Congress who were planning to challenge the election results. At the conclusion of one segment, she remarked to Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL): “If you're going to object to six states, and then you’ve got a two-hour debate, we’re not going to learn the results here until — well, we're not going to learn on January 6, that’s for sure. This goes into January 7.” (The electoral votes were indeed certified after midnight, under what had become truly unprecedented circumstances.) [Fox News, Sunday Morning Futures, 1/3/21]
The manner in which Grossberg has sought to substantiate the main claim in her lawsuit against Fox — that the network was allegedly setting up her and Bartiromo to take a fall in the Dominion lawsuit — is turning out to be a very strange thing indeed. Fox executives must bear ultimate responsibility for the lies the network helped to spread, but at the same time the new evidence that Grossberg has brought to bear in this case makes Bartiromo look worse and worse by revealing more of her reckless on-air behavior and coordination with the Trump campaign’s effort to subvert a national election result.